Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 16, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 16, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Global Hunger Figure Drops for First Time in 15 Years
  • Communist Rebels Decapitate Indian Pastor in front of Wife
  • Ga. Church Named Nation's Fastest-Growing
  • Iran State Media: Nine Arrested for Christian Evangelism

Global Hunger Figure Drops for First Time in 15 Years

People who live with extreme hunger on a daily basis now comprise 16 percent of the world's population - that's down slightly from last year's record high of 18 percent, according to The Christian Post. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the number of chronically malnourished people has dropped for the first time in 15 years. Still, that means 925 million people worldwide still suffer from lack of nourishment. "The fact that nearly a billion people remain hungry even after the recent food and financial crises have largely passed indicates a deeper structural problem," the FAO observed in its report. According to David Beckmann of Bread for the World, most hunger-related issues stem from poverty.

Communist Rebels Decapitate Indian Pastor in front of Wife

On Sept. 4, communist rebels decapitated a pastor and cut up his body after murdering him in Valam Guve Village, India. ASSIST News Service reports that they also badly assaulted his wife. Pastor Pangi Papa Rao and his wife, Chittamma, were returning from a prayer meeting when the masked communists stopped them. The pastor told them his name and explained that he and his wife were returning home from a prayer meeting. As soon as they heard the pastor's name, they murdered him in front of his wife and severely beat her. "The communists (Maoists) gave a statement to the local newspaper that they were responsible for the pastor's death. They said they had killed him because the pastor was an informant for the government of India," said an International Christian Concern spokesperson.

Ga. Church Named Nation's Fastest-Growing

Religion News Service reports that a megachurch in Lawrenceville, Ga., was named the fastest-growing Protestant church in America in Outreach magazine's annual ranking. Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston remains the nation's largest church. In the past year, 12Stone Church in suburban Atlanta increased its attendance by 30 percent and gained 2,226 attendees, boosting total attendance to 9,636. The magazine's list of the fastest-growing churches was determined using both percentage growth and numerical gain. 12Stone changed its name from Crossroads Church in 2007 and is known for its unusual community outreach, especially at Christmastime. Last year, 12Stone donated gifts to single mothers for their children, along with $50 to give to another single mom. In 2007, the church gave a car to a college student and a minivan to a family with a special needs child.

Iran State Media: Nine Arrested for Christian Evangelism

Iranian State television announced on Sept. 10 that nine people had been arrested on the charge of "carrying out evangelism" outside Hamadan, the capital city of Hamadan Province of Iran. ASSIST News Service reports that two of these people were supported by organizations based in the United States and Great Britain. The Iranian State TV reported that "the other seven people who were arrested are Iranian and were cooperating with these Christian-Zionist organizations." According to the Farsi Christian News Network, this is the first in 30 years that the state has publicly broadcast the arrest of a group of Christians for a particular purpose.

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